Bill Clinton defended his welfare reform back in 1996 to a handful of protestors on Thursday with a pack of lies—and he isn’t fooling anyone.
Recently, Clinton spoke with protesters at a campaign rally for Hillary Clinton in Philadelphia:
“They say the welfare reform bill increased poverty. Then why did we have the largest drop in African American poverty in history when I was president? The largest in history. What happened was, all these Republicans got into — the Supreme Court elected President Bush 5 to 4, then all these Republicans took over state legislatures. We left ‘em with enough money to take care of all the poor people who couldn’t go to work on welfare. We left ‘em with the money they had before the welfare rolls went down 60 percent. The Republicans took it away, and [these protesters are] blaming me.”
As Zach Carter of The Huffington Post points out, this is simply not true:
“Poverty dropped during the Clinton years not because of welfare reform, but because the entire American economy was being juiced by a massive stock market bubble. No credible economist even disputes this. The Clinton bubble was fueled by the aggressive financial deregulatory policies of Clinton and his Federal Reserve chairman, Alan Greenspan. When the stock market bubble burst, millions of people who previously would have received welfare fell into poverty."
The bill was designed with the full intention to get these “lazy” people off of welfare. To do so, Clinton handed off the programs to the states, who were then allowed to change as much about the program as they desired; many created stricter work requirements and others simply slashed funding.
There is not a single rational person who wouldn’t agree that the new program hurt the poor more than it helped.
To be absolutely clear, the economy went into a recession two months after Clinton left office. That is not nearly enough time for the blame to rest on George W. Bush—this was instead the result of Clinton’s bills that weakened the economy and made a social safety net unable to help the people that relied on it the most.
To put some numbers to this, the poverty rate after Clinton’s new welfare program passed in 1996 was at 13.7 percent. The most recent annual census data shows that in 2014, the poverty rate was at 14.8 percent. Despite the numbers being roughly the same, welfare rolls have declined by roughly 70 percent—in other words, from a peak of 14.2 million in 1994 to 4.2 million today.
Clinton, however, wants to point the finger at the GOP, saying it’s their fault that these people are unable to get the help they need to survive. The truth of the matter is, however, that Clinton’s bill—one that he spoke dearly about back in the 90s, making it one of his campaign platforms for his re-election—is the reason that the welfare program is the way it is.
What does this have to do with anything? Who cares, right? This happened in the 90s, there’s no reason to figure out who to point the finger at for this, right?
Well, it matters because Hillary Clinton, then-first lady and current Democratic presidential front-runner, was a huge supporter of this bill. Democrats want to know if Clinton is still as big of a supporter of the bills that they worked hard to pass in the 90s—bills that are currently deemed “disastrous”—with her current “progressive” political platform.
Considering her husband is lying about his past in order to make her look better, the answer is a bit obvious.
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